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The end of the road for Office?

Monday, October 1, 2007 by Dave Winer.

A picture named silo.gifSince the re-rollout of Office in 1996, it's been really clear why Microsoft was so hell-bent at first owning and then suffocating the web browser, along with the web.  Permalink to this paragraph

Tim Berners-Lee understood, before there was a Mozilla and a Netscape, he said the web was inherently a two-way medium. We struggled against the inadequacies of MSIE as a writing environment when blogging was booting up in the late 90s and early 00s. The air was mighty thin, which was no accident, Microsoft deliberately tried to keep us from breathing. Because for them, writing was not something that would be done in a web browser, if they improved their browser as a writing tool, that would be the end of Word, and with it, a big reason for using Office.  Permalink to this paragraph

Synopsis: Microsoft wouldn't let MSIE become a decent writing tool, because they were protecting Office. Permalink to this paragraph

That eventually had to run its course, they couldn't hold back the inevitable forever. Sooner or later the web would route around their roadblock, and we'd be writing on the web, as we are today. It didn't happen the way I wanted it to happen, with decent writing software built into the browser, rather through the ingenuity and peseverence of programmers who managed to make HTML and Javascript approximate the user interface of a desktop app closely enough to make simple writing tasks work inside the web browser. It probably helps that today's computers have gigabytes of internal memory and several gigahertz of processing power. If instead, Microsoft had embraced the web, and with it the shift in their product line and economics, in 1995, we'd have a much richer writing environment today. Blogging would have happened sooner, in a bigger way. It's hard to imagine how much the sins of Microsoft cost all of us. Permalink to this paragraph

I won't shed a tear for Office. Good riddance, I say.  Permalink to this paragraph

I use Google spreadsheet happily, even though it doesn't have anywhere near the features of Excel, and is way slower. Every sacrifice I make there is something I'm giving back to the web to heal the Microsoft wound. Permalink to this paragraph

However, we traded one monster for another. It seems there must always be a certain amount of evil in the tech business. The Java Wars are behind us, as are the Browser Wars. No one is going to fight Google in the next war, I doubt if many will even protest.  Permalink to this paragraph

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Last update: 10/1/07; 7:03:19 PM Pacific. "It's even worse than it appears."

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